“…once you walked into that front door, everything disappeared …and then I started to think, you know, God, that’s an incredibly domestic scene, you know, here we are, Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash, and I’m, you know, put flowers in the vase and light the fire and stuff, and I thought, but you know, I love this woman, and this moment is a very grounded moment… in our relationship, and… I sat down at the piano and, an hour later, ‘Our House’ was done.” – Graham Nash
At twenty-five, the lure of relaxing and pseudo-domesticity looks really damn good. Sometime recently, I came to terms with the fact I work too much mostly because I’m running away from something, probably some strange combination of loneliness or fear to be comfortable in my own skin, in my own space, in my own home. The first thing to do when you realize you have a problem is devise a strategy (or multiple strategies) to fix it. So after a few months, expressing my views, needs, and desires at my jobs, and internally deciding on career plans and timelines for various life changes, I put everything into motion. I talked to my bosses about moving up and started working full time for the bank, while keeping a part-time status making coffee in the morning. My days are longer, but I have completely free days off nowadays, and even if it is once per week, I get a good night’s rest the night before and do all my chores (and vices) the day of.
Not very often do repressed memories come back to me where I become absolutely infatuated with them. This week’s bizarre moment of déjà vu comes from the album Déjà Vu, released by the band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1970. The song “Our House” used to be in my piano repertoire back in high school and suddenly disappeared. “Our House” is an interesting track on Déjà Vu in context to the rest of the album. CSNY was strongly associated to the hippie counterculture that promoted the free love movement. Many of the other songs follow suite, but “Our House” sticks out like a sore thumb. This iconic song of glorifying home life just doesn’t belong on the album, but I guess that’s the point. Even with all the crazy drug use and rampant promiscuity going on during the era, Graham Nash managed to fall in love. A comfortable, monogamous love, with none other than the legendary free-spirited Joni Mitchell, impetus of the folk rock movement at the time. In a time where young people loved to love anyone, Graham loved to love Joni.
I listened to Déjà Vu a lot growing up and sang through a lot of the songs with my guitar-playing mom and aunt strumming through chord books in my childhood. When I became proficient in my own instrument, I played this song a lot, and then out of nowhere, I stopped. The picturesque, serene, calming scene Graham Nash paints in his song made no sense to me, until recently. Probably because I didn’t understand it – I was young and coming from a small house in constant busy-noise and mild chaos. Flowers weren’t put in vases because they died, they stayed in the yard where God could water them, as my mother left them in blatant neglect. Lighting the fire was next to near impossible, unless it involved my father setting off the smoke detector when frying fish in the kitchen, or using the completely cosmetic fireplace to simulate logs aflame. Resting your head for five minutes? Absolutely not, because I had piano lessons on Tuesday, debate club on Wednesday, and after-school job on Thursday. This song, as much as I could fudge it, was no more personal to me than a Norman Rockwell painting on a card.
Then somewhere, along the way, I got it. I want to not be so high-strung. I want to not be so deliberate. I want to be tied to something I can invest myself into – a career, some hobbies, something, someone I am truly passionate about. I don’t know exactly what or who it is yet, but as I move through life, make a few wrong turns, backtrack, and revise some strategies, I feel as though I’m getting closer and closer to it. I want to build a life and a home. I want to be less of a Joni and more of a Graham.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
np: “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young